If you have an immediate negative reaction to the idea of unionizing sign language interpreters, then I would like to ask you—politely, please—to pause for a moment and recognize bias.
Most of us have no idea what it could mean to become a Union. In fact, I am still learning. I’m eager to find up to a dozen other sign language interpreters, Deaf and Hearing, who are willing to investigate this notion.
Most importantly, interpreters in general have no idea how much unionizing could help the aims and goals of the American Deaf Community. Instead, the notion is shot down by assumptions and stereotypes before we get a chance to engage in a thoughtful way.
The reality is that there are many questions to answer before we can have a clear vision about whether unionizing is an act of deep structural change that will promote Deaf people’s freedom to participate in social life, or just another way to protect the privileges of hearing interpreters. Anyone who wants to respond seriously to calls for social justice ought to be open to learning if unionizing has real potential to make differences that all of our other efforts have so far failed to produce.
A Motion for RID to set up a Task Force to study the question of unionizing was rejected by RID’s lawyers on the basis of anti-trust law. Interpreters can talk about it, but not within the auspices of RID. This means we have to establish ourselves on the outside, as a small self-selected study group, technically called an organizing committee.
The members of this group would invest time exploring the questions of what and how unionizing could be the best, right, next thing for sign language interpreting in the United States. Please sign up to volunteer or to receive information on developments.
Find more information at this webpage: Organizing Interpreters.